An Interview with Mauro Pereira Carlos, the Founder of Fast Facilities
By Liz Lacerda, Foreign Correspondent
When did you start your business in Australia and how was it to grow?
I started my own business in 2014, while I was studying. I saw an opportunity to make more money to pay for university and I wanted to be a businessman.
It is easy to start a business in Australia. I started mine online in a coffee shop. I was already working as a cleaner and I looked for more opportunities to sell our services.
I approached my clients and I told them that I had started a strata and commercial cleaning business, Fast Facilities. I took responsibility for all the work, offered full insurances and hire my own employees.
They trusted me as they knew I was responsible and I did a good job. I then started looking for new clients.
If you do your job well in Australia, no matter what that job it is, people will hire you.
The company was fundamental for you to settle in Australia, right?
I was not planning to stay in Australia, but I met my Colombian wife in Sydney in 2009 and we got married two years later.
When we decided to settle here, we still did not have a visa, so we started our own company to sponsor ourselves.
The government required us to achieve a turnover of $250,000 after one year, and we reached almost double than that. The business was much more profitable than we had imagined. Despite that, our visa was denied and we had to start a Court battle to get our Permanent Residency (PR).
After we received the PR, we bought a house in the Northern Beaches, Sydney.
How is the business today?
We have 86 employees, hundreds of students have worked with us.
You will find the Defence Department, Qantas, Optus and hospitals amongst our clients.
My company has grown with great references and networking.
We are members of the Strata Community Australia – and we do a lot of marketing for that industry as well as for facilities managers. My company generates millions of dollars in turnover per year and hundreds of jobs.
I am also happy to announce that we received the ISO 9001 and some other compliance certifications last December/January. We are following the international standards and we are increasing our share in Australia.
We are growing and looking for the best ways to develop a sustainable business.
Why did you choose to move to Australia?
I graduated in Business Management in Brazil and arrived in Australia in May 2008. I was just 22 years old and I only had $300, but I had a huge dream of learning English and achieving something in life.
My first option was Canada, but I did some research and found out that Canada was too cold. My education agent suggested Australia due to the similar weather and the fact that I could legally work 20 hours per week.
I needed to work to survive here, as my family was very poor in Brazil.
How was your childhood in Brazil?
I was born in a very dangerous suburb slum in São Bernardo do Campo. My family was very humble, and my parents did not complete primary school. My father was a bricklayer and my mother, a stay-at-home mum. My father worked very hard for our first home, labouring during the day and building our house at night.
We used to fish in a creek nearby, so we would have dinner. All that created a very strong work ethic and responsibility in me.
At the age of 12, I learnt my first word in English, which was “businessman”. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to become a businessman.
You had some health issues as well, right?
At the age of 17, I was diagnosed with an advanced stage of Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy), which required chemotherapy for one year.
I was working and studying during that period. When I arrived in Australia, I was still within the five years remission period. During the first year of starting my own company here, I suffered Bell paralysis, which paralysed half of my face. It looked like I had a stroke.
There is no cure, but I recovered 70% of my facial movements with physiotherapy.
How did you save the money to come to Australia?
I started working at the age of 12 as a carpenter assistant. After two years, I received a scholarship for High School, and I worked during the day and studied at night.
My next job was an office clerk (‘office boy’ in Portuguese), in which I got paid the minimum wage, so I could save enough money to pay for the university’s enrolment fee. My sister lent me the money to start the course, as I could not afford it.
I was amongst the first 50 students to receive a scholarship from the government a few months later. I had to work during the day, including Sundays, and study at night; and I could save some money to travel.
How was your arrival in Australia?
My arrival in Australia was very difficult because my English was poor to the point that I could not even understand the hosting lady when she spoke to me.
I then moved to a backpackers until I found a shared place with other students. I did not get any work for two months, as I could not understand English. My first job was washing a “churros” machine owned by a Brazilian lady.
After that, I met some other Brazilians who helped me a lot by placing me in a cleaning job for a school at night. I then worked in a business from 4am to 8am for two years. During that period, I started a Master Degree in Accounting. I also did a traineeship and all types of casual work (“bicos”) to pay for university here.
Looking back, what’s your feeling now, after you have achieved all that?
I am very happy and fulfilled.
It’s not easy to work with people, but the sacrifice was worth it. I helped a lot of students to get their first jobs and I assisted my family to come to Australia.
We also sponsor 170 young soccer players.
I never thought I would be born in a slum in Brazil and get to be a businessman in Australia, but Brazilians never give up. We have energy and strength to follow our dreams.
It might seem overwhelming at first, but everything is possible for those who believe and are determined to achieve their goals.